63,072,000

Have you ever closed your eyes while driving? I don’t recommend it if you’re planning on living a long life. But, if you’re a risk taking kind of gal like myself, you might have. It takes less than a second to make an irrational, reckless decision like that. I remember thinking how badly I just wanted to feel alive. I wanted to ride a rollercoaster with my arms up in the air screaming, “I CAN FINALLY FEEL MYSELF LIVING!” or “I’M GOING TO PUKE.” Either of those scenarios would pump adrenaline in my veins forcing my brain and body to snap into the present.

I wasn’t suicidal. I just wanted to feel something, anything, no matter what the risk. The big hole inside of me had spread. I was numb to everything- love, life, sadness, reality, happiness… all of it. It felt like I was being pulled down into the ground by branches and weeds. It felt like I was being covered with dirt and sand, unable to breathe or experience anything, but still hopelessly alive.

92CB02D3-1918-454B-BA2C-6CB396F05092I felt this way right after I got sober. I had already admitted to myself and every person in my life that I was an alcoholic. I cannot drink normally. I’m allergic to alcohol, it makes me break out in stupidity. Saying that kind of thing out loud didn’t really seem all that difficult for me. Yeah- hi, I’m Kate and I’m an alcoholic. Whoopdeedoo. It wasn’t rocket science. Everyone in my family had been walking on egg shells for years wondering when I was finally going to stop.

I stopped. Aren’t you happy with me now?

Aren’t I happy now?

No. Sobriety doesn’t come with a Groupon for instant satisfaction and joy in life. What it does deliver is a swift dose of reality and most of us are very startled by that. What do you mean I have to work on myself? I just gave up my best friend. Isn’t that enough? Are you seriously telling me that I have to show up at these meetings with you random, weird people and tell strangers about my life? What the hell is wrong with you people? I like to air my dirty laundry out on facebook, not face to face. That just sounds savage.

I’m was willing to kiss Pinot Grigio and PBR tall boys goodbye. Peace out alcohol, this relationship is over. I’m moving on to bigger and better things. I figured that first night that I would go to sleep an alcoholic and wake up to a happier version of myself.

That’s pretty typical of us alcoholics, right? We want what we want and we want it right now. If we can’t get what we want when we want it, we can become slightly…insane. I can’t even count how many tantrums I had when I ran out of wine.

It’s pretty clear that alcoholism is a symptom of something much harder to break. Our mind can be a weapon against ourselves. Our lives are full of self-destructive chaos. We slowly kill ourselves with substances to avoid situations and emotions that cause us stress.

Shortly after I decided to get sober I started to see the real world and it was FUCKING TERRIFYING. I had to tell myself, “Don’t worry, you stopped drinking, you don’t have to feel those things. Alcohol was the problem!”

HA. HA. HA.

Every table I sat at in the beginning was filled with people who had coping skills and they seemed pretty damn happy. I wanted what they had and this time I could get it. Ask and ye shall receive. They told me what to do. They told me I would have to work hard to achieve sobriety and start a better life. They told me to surrender. They told me to pray. They told me to breathe.

F238EE5C-D1F7-4900-8F56-A2BAD60F91E2Breathe. I have always been trying to catch my breath. Trying to run around and search for anything or anyone to fill the void. When that didn’t work I kept running in every other directions until I finally couldn’t.

Sobriety is simple. I have regularly found that I don’t exactly do *simple*. Breathing is also simple. But, I find myself holding my breath. I breathe in fear and let it settle into my core. Instead of living in the moment, I get stuck in the moment. I can’t control anyone or anything but myself. I hold my breath when I’m hurting, when I’m demoralized and beaten with words. I hold my breath as I watch my children grow and worry if they’ll make the same mistakes I have. I hold my breath when I think about the love I have lost and the love I’ll never have.

Sounds pretty sad right? I’ll invite you to my pity party. All of my fears dancing around me taunting me, pushing me, trying to break me into the shadow of my past.

 

Woe is me.

 

Here’s why I haven’t suffocated yet- I drop to my knees and quietly ask God to take over, be my ventilator until I can inhale my serenity and exhale the rest. I reach out to others who have learned to breathe and ask them how. How do they do it? They just do it. They put the time, the effort, and the service to help others and themselves.2A62B932-A96B-4B41-B785-64080836D04B

I’ve been breathing my whole life. When did I complicate it? The answer doesn’t matter, the solution is sobriety. It’s trying to comprehend that this life has not been handed to me, I have to work for it. It’s taking those risks, opening my heart, opening my mind, and asking God to take over. It’s accepting that shitty people, places and things happen. It’s accepting that I have been shitty to people, places and things (… I’ve thrown a good amount of cell phones in my time.) but that doesn’t define me. I define me, and I identify myself as a sober mom just taking it all in day by day. Am I perfect? No (unless you ask my dog, of course). Am I trying? I am.

I’m taking life one day at a time. One minute at a time. One second at a time.

63,072,000 seconds to be precise and a lifetime more to go.

17247AE6-DFBA-46B1-B255-24D2CDDD6C24

 

 

Things that go bump in the night…

I remember when I was a kid I was scared that there was a monster under my bed. I was terrified that this monster was going to grab me and pull me under the bed into the land of terrors. I had no idea what a real monster could do. I had no way of understanding that there were monsters in my everyday life. I hadn’t been introduced to alcohol, I hadn’t been told to take this pill or that pill to feel better.

Not yet at least.

 

Fast forward to July 2016. I had just brought home my second beautiful daughter, and life was pretty good. I remember my husband asking me if I wanted a drink or anything. I was so focused on the baby and making sure our eldest felt loved in the midst of all the changes in her life. I told him I was fine. I didn’t need a drink. I was oozing out happiness and bliss from every pore. I made sure I gave myself a big ‘ol pat on the back for turning down alcohol. At the time, I said to myself, ” See! You don’t have a problem. You can say no.”

That lasted for approximately two hours. The sun was setting, the house started to quiet down, and bedtime was approaching. I told my husband to sleep on the couch so I wouldn’t wake him when I was up with the baby. Around two am I started to feel like there were bugs crawling up my legs. I couldn’t sit still. I became terrified to close my eyes. My heart started to race, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was dying. I woke my husband up and told him he needed to bring me to the ER immediately. The feeling just got worse and worse. I realized I couldn’t go to the ER, because I would have to take the baby too and she was too little to be surrounded with all of the germs that lurk in an ER.

Instead, I ran out into the backyard hysterically crying. My husband had to hold me super tight, I was scared shitless. Eventually, the feeling left.

Twenty minutes later, round two started. Same crazy feelings, same terror. This time I decided I had to do something about it. If it kept happening I would be exhausted from being up all night panicking or feeding the baby. I had to sleep. I had to turn off my mind to make the panic go away.

Drinking seemed like the obvious solution.

I pounded two glasses of wine. That’s all I needed. My brain started to slow down. Well, if two glasses managed to help, two more wouldn’t be a big deal. I was trying to develop a healthy breastfeeding relationship with my newborn, but I had some formula stashed away. It didn’t matter. I fed her formula as I felt my boobs just straight up fill up with milk that I couldn’t even feed her.

 

As time went on, this nighttime panic bullshit got worse. I started these weird rituals when I could feel the anxiety creeping in. If everyone else in the house was asleep, I wasn’t allowed to sleep. Someone had to be up. I would look at my windows and try to see if any of my neighbors were still up. If they were, then I could go to sleep. If that failed, I would watch infomercials until 3 am when the news came on. If the news came on, I could sleep.

Constant racing thoughts, scared of dying in my sleep, feeling inadequate as a mom, hating my curvy body, worrying that I might trip on the stairs and drop the baby, and so many other intrusive thoughts just ran a marathon in my brain.

 

All of this crap became an excuse. I’m depressed! I have anxiety! I have OCD! Drinking will help. Look- see, I had some wine and now I’m totally functioning! I’m smiling! Alcohol was the solution to all my postpartum issues.

 

Cracking open a bottle of wine at 2 am started to seem more and more like normal behavior. I thought it was helping me sleep. It wasn’t helping me sleep. I was BLACKING out every night. Over and over and over and over. Reality started to become blurry.

“Are there other moms that do this? There has to be. I can’t be the only one. But, just to be safe, I’m not going to mention this to anyone.”

 

Hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent on my ” medicine”.

 

Happy moms drink! It makes us better moms! What a relief! I don’t have to feel anything at all, EVER. AMAZING!

 

It never occurred to me that those rituals that I made up in order to fall asleep weren’t exactly rituals at all. They were excuses that I created in order to feed my monster. The list got longer and longer. It got to the point that if someone even looked at me the wrong way, I would tell myself to go drink.

 

Sure, drinking would knock me out, but over time it made everything worse. My depression was all-consuming. My anxiety started to debilitate me. My OCD was getting worse and worse.

 

The harder it got, the more excuses I made. “It’s noon on a Tuesday and you have to fold laundry? Laundry is stressful! How about I Just start drinking…”

 

I would go in and out of different doctors, begging them to help me. I felt like my mental health was in bad shape. They’d prescribe this and that, never once asking me how much alcohol I drank. And if they did ask? I’d lie, obviously. Only a couple glasses a week!

(um try…four boxes a week…)

Then after a couple years of that shit, something happened. I woke up for a brief moment and looked at my family. I was turning this home into hell for everyone here. The guilt and shame over my selfish behavior pushed me into start thinking about getting sober.

It didn’t happen overnight. It happened after several months after more blackouts. I finally realized I had to kill the monster. This monster disguised it’s self as a friend.  I wasn’t sure how I could live without it.

 

Then this really crazy thing happened. Sobriety. 

The most sobriety I have, the more that extra crap fades away. Who would have thought that alcohol made all of my mental stuff worse? I thought it was helping. It wasn’t helping. It was killing me.

I’m not perfect. I can’t tell you what tomorrow will bring, but I know that I have faced my monster and I kicked its ass to the curb. It will try to creep back in over and over again, but I’m not weak anymore. I’m a fucking warrior and I will beat that asshole senseless before I let myself believe the lies it tries to tell me.

Nighttime isn’t scary anymore. If I can’t sleep I don’t freak out. The exhaustion that came with being a raging alcoholic is no longer there. If I don’t get those recommended 8 hours a night, I get a red bull and I deal. It’s ok to be tired sometimes. It won’t kill me, but drinking will.

I’m happy. I’m healthy. I’m spiritual. I’m all the things that I wanted to be for so long, but could only achieve through sobriety.

The monster doesn’t fool me anymore.

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